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  • Laura Stringer

Remember the Viable in MVP

We product types talk a lot about MVP - Minimum Viable Product. The concept is simple: your first pass at a new product should be the smallest set of features (minimum) that will be useful (viable) for users.

It’s very easy to focus on the “Minimum” part, though. And while I don’t think we need a whole new term for MVP (think “Minimum Lovable Product”), there is a need to focus on the “Viable” part of MVP.

One of Ninth Fourth’s early clients was a company that had created a platform providing information security training and auditing. It had become unwieldy: features didn’t flow together, the look was outdated, and it was simply too hard to use.

Poor user experience and a high-touch onboarding process were holding the company back from the growth the company wanted.

The purchase process required personal interaction from employees, and the platform was so hard to use that they had to hold regular training webinars. There was no way they could take on thousands of new customers - in fact, they were starting to lose customers.

It turned out this company had been living in constant MVP mode, but focused on the Minimum part.

They would launch a new feature as an “MVP” that technically worked, but was visually unappealing, the task flow not thought through, and with no cohesion between the new feature and the rest of the platform. Those “MVPs” weren’t actually viable, just minimal. Then they’d start working on the next feature, without ever going back to refine anything.

To get things back on track, we worked with this company to design an entirely new front end for the software with an updated, modern design. More importantly, we architected an easy-to-follow, consistent navigation. We also mapped the onboarding process and identified several opportunities, enabled by the new interface, to streamline it.

And while that’s a happy ending, it’s important to note that all this could have been avoided in the first place by focusing on the Viable part of MVP.

It’s better to launch fewer features thoughtfully, than it is to shoot features rapid-fire out of a tshirt cannon.


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